To swerve or not to swerve?
That is the age-old dilemma when you find yourself driving down the road and you come around a corner and see an animal in the middle of your lane.
And you have about 1.5 milliseconds to answer this multiple-choice question.
A couple of days ago I was on a one-day road trip that took me into the mountains of Northern California and I was forced to make that decision when a squirrel decided to try and make it across the road in front of me.
My choices were to:
1. slam on the brakes;
2. swerve into the oncoming lane;
3. swerve towards the right shoulder;
4. attempt a slight mid-course mini-swerve–which would entail doing the advanced calculus determination of the squirrels speed in comparison to my forward rate of velocity and prediction of the squirrel’s exact location, in the spatial relationship to not one, but all four of my tires as they intersected his or her path (it is really difficult to tell), which does not even include the variable determinant of the squirrel changing course or speed;
5. OR just keep on keeping on…which is what I did.
And yes, I did…hit it.
I am from the school that teaches you don’t swerve to avoid an animal on the road.
Assuming you are in a vehicle with some amount of metal surrounding you, it comes equipped with seatbelts, which are snuggly anchoring your body in place, and hopefully has airbags, there are a lot more bad things that can happen to you by attempting to avoid the impact.
I found over half a million Google hits on that topic. No, I did not read them all but many are discussion pages that present various opinions. One theme you should note on many of the Google hits are stories about deaths caused by trying to avoid hitting an animal on the road, often no bigger than a squirrel. (To the peoples…not the squirrel.)
Of course hitting some animals can cause quite a stink.
What crazy car vs. animal encounters have you experienced?